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Tilting at Windmills

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July 22, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA IN IRAQ....Alexandra Zavis and Doug Smith report on Barack Obama's trip to Iraq:

After Barack Obama met with Iraqi leaders here on Monday, the Iraqi government outlined a possible schedule for a U.S. troop withdrawal that is similar to the plan the Democratic presidential candidate has pledged to follow if he is elected.

Its announcement bolstered Obama's credibility on a key foreign policy issue, early in a weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe that was designed to reassure voters concerned he lacks the experience to be commander in chief.

It also gave him a boost in his debate with Republican presidential candidate John McCain over how to end the war in Iraq. McCain has repeatedly insisted that setting a firm withdrawal date ignores conditions on the ground and could prevent the U.S. from winning the war.

Zavis and Smith seem to be among the few reporters to really understand the impact of the past few days' events. Last week McCain, by default, was the most credible of the two candidates on national security issues. Now Obama has visited Iraq and Afghanistan, talked to the commanders on the ground, talked to the head of the Iraqi government, and — to everyone's surprise — received Nouri al-Maliki's blessing. McCain's got nothing left in his quiver now. Whether the foreign policy punditocracy likes it or not, Obama, in every practical sense of the word, is now the default national security candidate.

Kevin Drum 11:43 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

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And Petraeus had his interview with the new boss. Wonder how he did?

Posted by: Boolaboola on July 22, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Surge! Surge! Surge! It seems the only thing McCain has left is being "right" about the surge. Even if you give him this argument, are we then to surmise that McCain is qualified to clean up a mess he starts (eager support of the invasion in the first place), while Obama is qualified to avoid messes such as Iraq, since he was right on the invasion?

Posted by: RollaMO on July 22, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Added to the fact that McCain doesn't know that Iraq doesn't border on Pakistan.

Posted by: on July 22, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Not according to the brain trust at Morning Joe. It seems that Obama has not paid due deference to "The Surge," so how can anything he says be taken seriously unless he kisses "The Surge's" ring (and, by extension, Bush and McCain's rear-ends)?

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on July 22, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's credibility on national security is mostly a biographical function. Otherwise, it's just so much reflexive chest-thumping. Because he's the Daddy Party candidate, he'll keep us safe!

At some point the media might want to explore their own implicit bias in this area. Why is bellicosity a good thing? Didn't the Iraq invasion teach us something about that? Are we really safer being mired in a Middle-Eastern country indefinitely?

Obama is hardly a radical but simply contrasting a steady and calm voice to McCain tinny outrages confers on him an element of gravitas. If Obama makes a mistake, it won't result from overexcitability. For that, choose McCain.

Posted by: walt on July 22, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to be a stickler but where's the evidence that the Surge worked again? I seemed to have misplaced my GOP meme. Juan Cole points out that roughly the same number of civilian and ISF Iraqi casualties occurred in Jan 2006 and in June 2008. Where's the political progress that the Surge was to induce?

Posted by: ckelly on July 22, 2008 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove's response:

This proves that Obama is a Muslim.

Posted by: EB on July 22, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK
Whether the foreign policy punditocracy likes it or not, Obama, in every practical sense of the word, is now the default national security candidate.

I think you are being a little too optimistic. I believe Obama is willing and capable of bending his mind around foreign affairs, but that sort of knowledge comes from more than one high-profile trip abroad.

Oh--and Whether the foreign policy punditocracy likes it or not--McCain is no foreign affairs expert either.

Posted by: Jon Karak on July 22, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has ... received Nouri al-Maliki's blessing

I'm not sure how that's going to be a plus among US voters.

Posted by: thersites on July 22, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: It is a success in the narrow sense that fewer American soldiers are being killed. That's all the US media or the US voting population cares about. The fact that we're paying political factions not to kill us, or that the worst of the ethnic cleansing has already been accomplished, or that everyone seems to be standing pat until the upcoming election reveal who is actually in charge there doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on July 22, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Surge surge Does anyone remember these people where all stuck on Stay the course, Stay the course.We had to beat them over the head with 3000 dead soldiers untill they did somthing right ala The Surge.So would someone ask Mcain what he thought of Stay the course.

Posted by: jOHN JOHN on July 22, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, Obama preemptively plagiarized the McCain position on Iraq, as the Republican candidate has just announced that the glorious success of the Surge due to the steadfastness of our Dear Leader has improved the conditions on the ground in Iraq so much that he is now willing to promise to bring the troops back from Baghdad within two years of the McCain Presidency.

Obama is fucked.

Posted by: gregor on July 22, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps al-Maliki is now one of those "Anti-American Foreign Leaders" that Obama is willing to "Unconditionally Meet With"?

In any case, what EXACTLY do we do if al-Maliki, supported by a parliamentary majority, tells the US to leave by a certain date?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on July 22, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

... Obama, in every practical sense of the word, is now the default national security candidate.

Not yet, he isn't.

Of course McCain wins on 'national security'. 'Good on "National security"' pollster-speak for 'ready to kill foreigners'. Until 'national security' in the collective imagination refers to national security, and not 'war fighting', national security will always be a GOP issue. McCain's never met a war he didn't like, and is still pissed at Clinton's failure to use ground forces against Serbia.

A the end of the day, the GOP can point to real, extant hecatombs of infidel dead. All the Democrats, and Obama, can do is promise.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 22, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's response to the Maliki blessing should just be that Muslims take care of each other.

Posted by: lampwick on July 22, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

But even more importantly, this trip shows that Obama is capable, engaged, prepared, articulate, interested, savvy, and a leader.
So now, when my mother-in-law and middle American goes into the voting booth in Nov, there may be a moments hesitation, before she (they) pull the lever and elect the old codger.
Remember people, he's black, he's smoked pot, he has no experience and Jessie Jackson may be the next Sec of State.

Posted by: The fake fake al on July 22, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

It has worked out well, given Maliki's well-timed statement, but honestly I don't get why going to Iraq or giving a speech in Germany is supposed to make one "presidential".

To be clear, I'm very much an Obama supporter, and I think he is presidential; I just don't get why going to Germany to give a speech shows it.

Posted by: on July 22, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

thersites: I'm not sure how that's going to be a plus among US voters.

Opposition to Iraq War Reaches New High - USA Today/Gallup 4/24/08

63% say the USA made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq

That is the highest 'mistake' percentage Gallup has ever measured for an active war involving the USA -- surpassing by 2-points the 61% who said the Vietnam War was a mistake in May 1971. - Gallup 4/24/08

Posted by: mr. irony on July 22, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Opposition to Iraq War Reaches New High - USA Today/Gallup 4/24/08

But opposition to the next war?

Vietnam was already six-seven years old at that point.

Wars are like cars and wives -- they're cool when they're new.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 22, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

It's been kind of fun watching the punditocracy sputter and break down as the presidential campaign goes off script. The traditional media appears to function in the role of producer of a reality television show, managing storylines for the daily newscast.

One of the primary storylines, "McCain = foreign policy expert, Obama = naive newcomer" is being blown apart day by day. Until they develop a new storyline, the mediacrats are unable to report the news straight.

Posted by: danimal on July 22, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

al-Maliki obviously has to suffer an unfortunate accident sometime soon.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 22, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The way politics works, is that Obama will become the security candidate when the polls show him to be. I think for many Americans, security means a visceral response of beating scary foreigners over the head. McCain has that. Co-opting them, by understanding their needs and avoiding conflict is way to subtle a strategy to play well in the emotional brain.

Posted by: bigTom on July 22, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 22, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

McCain repeatedly tried to act the tough Republican role and taunted Obama to go to Iraq. I don't think Obama is in Iraq because of McCain, but has there ever been a more palpable example of a candidate getting just what he expressly begged for and that thing being more unfavorable? Obama looks and sounds so Presidential that its just gotta hurt. And there's no way that McCain is getting his mojo back on this one - what's he gonna do? Make another trip to the region and try to upstage Obama? Spend the next few months prattling on about the success of the surge?

McCain is soooo out of his depth on virtually every issue and, primarily due to the pliant MSM, Iraq was the best thing he had going - but the facade just came down and he is cooked.

Posted by: HungChad on July 22, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

So is it just me, or do reporters revel in quoting Obama saying "uh". Per Marc Ambinder:

"I've always reserved the right, uh, to say---let's say that ethnic, uh, ethnic fighting broke out once again---I've reserved the right to say---I don't--I'm not going to stand idly by if genocide is occurring."

This on the heels of 8 years of reporters routinely cleaning the incomprehensibility of Bush in published transcripts. It's very annoying.

Posted by: Rock on July 22, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

So is it just me, or do reporters revel in quoting Obama saying "uh"

Hasn't hurt Ted Kennedy, the Wizard of Ahs.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 22, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has been in the middleast for a couple of days and already he has Oil down $31 dollars bbl.Has the Iraqis ready to go it alone.And he isn't even President yet.What has Mcain done, he has been to the Markets in Iraq several times and PFFT nothing.Go Obama!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: johnJohn on July 22, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

walt wrote: "At some point the media might want to explore their own implicit bias in this area."

"The media" consists of a handful of giant corporations that own and control virtually all of the mass media from which most Americans get most of their information, and the bias of "the media" is explicitly in favor of the interests of their owners, namely America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

The giant corporations who own and control "the media" want Their Man McCain -- a career white collar crook and bought-and-paid-for tool of corporate lobbyists -- to be the next president, to ensure a continuation of the CheneyBush policies of giant tax cuts for the ultra-rich and deregulation of media ownership.

That's why "the media" consistently promotes various focus-group-tested, positive stereotypes of McCain, while engaging in a campaign of character assassination against the arrogant, elitist, unpatriotic, Muslim, naive, inexperienced, self-adulating, flip-flopping, angry black man, Obama.

Obama's task is to convince America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. that he, too, will put their interests above everyone else's interests -- indeed above the interests of America as a nation. He needs to persuade America's corporate rulers that it is, in fact, in their interest for the middle class, the working class and the poor to get a few crumbs from the table, and maybe even a few scraps tossed to them, rather than getting a kick in the teeth as has been the policy of the Republicans.

The ultra-rich accepted this "kinder and gentler" approach to ruling the country during the Clinton years, and had the opportunity to continue it with Al Gore. But their insatiable greed, their desire to own not just almost everything, but everything, got the better of them, and they opted to put CheneyBush in power.

If Obama can persuade the ultra-rich to embrace a more "compassionate" approach to ruling the country as being ultimately in their own interest, then you may begin to see the corporate media take a more "balanced" approach to covering the two candidates.

Until then, the corporate media will favor McCain with regard to Iraq policy, energy policy, and everything else.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 22, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, McSame's got "nothing in his quiver" but to the shadow establishment and the dumbest redstate voters, that doesn't matter at all. The former will do everything to steal the election, the latter will vote for the appointed Republican regardless of how awful he turns out to be. Never, never fall into complacency - it must be fought tooth and nail, time after time.

Posted by: ♪ on July 22, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

This trip to Iraq & Afghanistan is just a clever ruse to distract attention away from the fact that he's a Muslim who wants to impose Sharia, that his wife hates hard working white folks, and he would actually increase our troop presence overseas to fight Christianity.

It's true, I read it in an e-mail.

Posted by: scott on July 22, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Mcain even FlipFlopped on the War He was for Stay the Course untill the Dems forced McBush to try another stragedy.MCcain I,m all for STAY THE COURSE.5 years of stay the course and all it took was 6 months of THE SURGE.

Posted by: johnJohn on July 22, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Gregor, I literally pray, you *must* be a sarcastic parodist - if you really meant what you said, you are beneath ass-whole-itude beyond the ability of the deepest imagination to plumb.

mhr is a close second. Maybe there should be an intelligence/news based voting test after all.

Posted by: ♪ on July 22, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

walt at 11:56: Why is bellicosity a good thing? Didn't the Iraq invasion teach us something about that?

Yup. So did the Vietnam war. But being taught and learning, are two entirely different, if not unrelated, activities. History does the teaching. For the "learning" part to happen, the student has to be paying attention.

Posted by: on July 22, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

There's a rumor going around that Barack Obama has come out in favor of a US victory in Iraq. That can't be true- liberal Democrats will never support such an odd ball idea.

Hey, it works for me. Now that "victory" has finally been defined as leaving, I'm fine with it. It was the "victory" that was defined as "we stay there forever getting embroiled in the minutiae of sectarian politics, blowing shit up and torturing people to no useful effect, infuriating huge swaths of Arab opinion, arranging insider deals to give away Iraq's oil wealth to our cronies, shoveling trillions to our own homegrown war profiteers, all to the effect of destroying our national honor, and above all never ever ever leaving" that I had a problem with.

Posted by: DrBB on July 22, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

me at 1:12

Posted by: thersites on July 22, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Never, never fall into complacency - it must be fought tooth and nail, time after time." - ♪

and

"being taught and learning, are two entirely different, if not unrelated, activities" - thersites

Double Ditto

Posted by: HungChad on July 22, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

there's no way that McCain is getting his mojo back on this one

Yesterday the national news showed McDodo having a temper tantrum about Obama's visit to Iraq while standing next to a zombie caricature of the 1st Bush president. McDodo's mojo cannot take a clubbing like that and be expected to survive.

Posted by: Brojo on July 22, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Whether the foreign policy punditocracy likes it or not, Obama, in every practical sense of the word, is now the default national security candidate.

They won't like it and they'll contort themselves every way imaginable to kee McCain on top. Nothing new.

But for all their power, they can't an stop intelligent voter from noticing.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on July 22, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Last week McCain, by default, was the most credible of the two candidates on national security issues."

Naah. He was the MORE credible of the TWO candidates, and (perhaps) the MOST credible of the candidates -- if we count Ron Paul and Ralph Nader as "candidates."

Posted by: Bob on July 22, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Now Obama has visited Iraq and Afghanistan, talked to the commanders on the ground, talked to the head of the Iraqi government, and to everyone's surprise received Nouri al-Maliki's blessing."
________________

Hold on, a second. If Prime Minister al Maliki feels just fine with 16 month withdrawal, then how does proposing such a withdrawal place any pressure on the Iraqi government to make progress on non-military issues?

Short answer is, it doesn't. This is why the Obama campaign has also been pushing the supposed savings from our withdrawal and the need to reinforce our efforts in Afghanistan.

The supposed agreement between Senator Obama and Prime Minister al Maliki is, to some extent, simply an example of two politicians shining on for their respective bases. Both are well aware that the withdrawal of forces from Iraq will not be complete in 16 months. For that matter, neither intends for the withdrawal of all American troops. Unmentioned is the Obama promises to continue to assist the Iraqi government. A continued US presence to provide training, intel, reconnaisance, air support, special ops, and logistics will take at least 60,000 troops. Add force protection and embassy security and we'll likely have 50-75,000 troops still in Iraq even after President Obama calls the withdrawal complete. And that number doesn't even include the thousands of contract personnel that will still be needed.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Now both of them are handicapped by a "ignore domestic issues and give all our money away to foreigners" stigma.

Posted by: Luther on July 22, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Not one to miss the opportunity to have the national stage all to himself while Obama burns precious campaigning time in Iraq, McCain spent yesterday in the battleground state of Maine. Today, he'll be pressing the flesh in electoral vote-rich New Hampshire. Alas, his advance staff must've neglected to alert the press:

In Manchester last night, there was just one reporter and one photographer waiting for as his plane -- a white, blue and gold Boeing 737-400 emblazoned with his campaign slogan, "Reform, Prosperity, Peace" -- touched down on the Wiggins Airways tarmac.

Revealing their panic, the Obama team immediately dispatched senior staff to Rhode Island, in order to stem the tide created against them.

Posted by: junebug on July 22, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

A continued US presence to provide training, intel, reconnaisance, air support, special ops, and logistics will take at least 60,000 troops. Add force protection and embassy security and we'll likely have 50-75,000 troops still in Iraq even after President Obama calls the withdrawal complete. And that number doesn't even include the thousands of contract personnel that will still be needed.

Trashy's right -- look at all the troops we still have in Vietnam!

Posted by: Gregory on July 22, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

"look at all the troops we still have in Vietnam!"
___________________

LOL. Greggy still thinks we're losing in Iraq.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Define just how, exactly, one wins an occupation. Be specific and show your work.

For extra credit, explain where the personnel and materiel are going to come from, and how the tab can be paid with tax cuts.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on July 22, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I need add nothing to what BGRS said. Let's see if Trashy is up to the task.

He's welcome to entertain fantasies of continuing the occupation of Iraq -- how's that status of forces agreement you were so confidently touting earlier going, by the way? -- but the fact remains that both the American and Iraqi people want us the hell out of there.

Posted by: Gregory on July 22, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

A continued US presence to provide training, intel, reconnaisance, air support, special ops, and logistics will take at least 60,000 troops.

No, it won't (even assuming we intend to continue providing all those things). What are you, an idiot? (No need to answer that -- the question was purely rhetorical).

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Last week McCain, by default, was the most credible of the two candidates on national security issues.

Based on...what, exactly? His bold proposal to build an anti-Mexican fence along the Iraq-Pakistan border? His courageous promise to defend Czechoslovakia against Warsaw Pact invasion? His maverick plan to rebuild the military by seducing a young heiress and using her fortune to fund military spending?

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Greggy still thinks we're losing in Iraq.

So we found those weapons of mass destruction, then, and prevented Iraq from turning into a hotbed of terrorist agitation?

Awright! One million dead, baby -- but it was worth it! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Define just how, exactly, one wins an occupation. Be specific and show your work."
_______________

Easily done. "Winning" is the act of accomplishing the nations war goals, as they relate to our national interests. Mind you, the goals change in every war, so you must continue to pay attention. In order to attain our goals, the military is called upon to complete certain specific tasks. The National strategy is the sum of all tasks to be accomplished by military and civilian departments and agencies in the furtherance of our goals.

"Occupation" is one specific military task, which, by the way, legally ended when our presence in Iraq was ratified by UN resolution and accepted by the legitimate government of Iraq. Completion of an occupation does not, of itself, constitute winning. It is but one task to be completed in the accomplishment of our goals.

But you know all this, Blue Girl. What's the point of pretending ignorance?

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"the fact remains that both the American and Iraqi people want us the hell out of there."
_____________________

No more than we in the military do, Greggy. What's that got to do with the price of beans? Wars are seldom ended simply because people get weary of them.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

"'A continued US presence to provide training, intel, reconnaisance, air support, special ops, and logistics will take at least 60,000 troops.'

No, it won't (even assuming we intend to continue providing all those things)."
__________________

You think not, eh? Wait and see. Nobody is going to simply abandon Iraq. It not only is not in our interest to support them, simply abandoning them would be against our better nature. You can be guaranteed that if the winner of our Presidential election obtains Iraqi concurrence with a withdrawal timetable, then they've also reached agreement on what assistance we will provide post bellum.

As to the numbers, they can be arrrived at by some calculations of unit TO&Es, some guesswork about the tasks remaining, and the dangers involved. With luck, the numbers can be gradually reduced, but not immediately.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, the phrase, "It not only is not in our interest to support them" should have read, "It is not only in our interest to support them"

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Wars are seldom ended simply because people get weary of them.

Uh yes, actually, they're quite often ended because people get weary of them and lose the taste for continued fighting. History is replete with examples.

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

You think not, eh? Wait and see.

Ah, the old "I can't refute you know, but I can refute you in several years from now" dodge.

Nobody is going to simply abandon Iraq.

Just was nobody was going to simply abandon Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, China, Tibet, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Haiti, Somalia, etc.....

It not only is not in our interest to support them, simply abandoning them would be against our better nature.

Uh, I wouldn't exactly count on our "better nature." If it's not in our interest to keep pouring money down that rathole -- if, in fact, Republican-allied military contractors can no longer get fat by siphoning off hardworking US taxpayer money being poured down the rathole -- then we're out, no matter what "better natures" intend.

You can be guaranteed that if the winner of our Presidential election obtains Iraqi concurrence with a withdrawal timetable, then they've also reached agreement on what assistance we will provide post bellum.

Uh, no, in fact, I can't be guaranteed that at all. You don't seem to understand what the word "guarantee" means.

As to the numbers, they can be arrrived at by some calculations of unit TO&Es, some guesswork about the tasks remaining, and the dangers involved. With luck, the numbers can be gradually reduced, but not immediately.

So, when challenged as to the numbers, the answer is essetially "guesswork." Does he perhaps also work on putting together the McCain economic plan?

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK
Wars are seldom ended simply because people get weary of them.

Actually, that's the exact reason almost every war in the history of mankindmdash;and every war that doesn't end with the complete extermination of the population of one belligerent—ends.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 22, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that's the exact reason almost every war in the history of mankindmdash;and every war that doesn't end with the complete extermination of the population of one belligerent—ends.

Just in recent memory, the Lebanese civil war, the Northern Ireland conflict, the Colombian civil war, etc., all ended largely for that reason, and going a little further back the Soviet-Afghan war, the Iran-Iraq War, the American portion of the Vietnam War, the French occupation of Algeria, etc. did so as well. But then again military history was never exactly trashhauler's strong suit.

Posted by: Stefan on July 22, 2008 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

"Actually, that's the exact reason almost every war in the history of mankindmdash;and every war that doesn't end with the complete extermination of the population of one belligerentends."
_______________________

Nope. Historically, people have gotten tired of most wars long before they ended. Sometimes, they fight on because they have little choice. Sometimes, because it's the right thing to do. For that matter, usually the people haven't been given a choice.


Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

So, when challenged as to the numbers, the answer is essetially "guesswork."
________________

Of course, it is. We've got charts, and tables, and computers full of data and models. And it all comes down to guesswork at some point.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Wars are seldom ended simply because people get weary of them.

A simple Google search of the terms "armies" "exhausted" and "negotiations" bring up reams of examples that refute this assertion.

Mind-boggling.

Posted by: trex on July 22, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

But you know all this, Blue Girl. What's the point of pretending ignorance?

To illustrate the banality of the right.

Since the fucking war can not be justified in the first place so all your contortions are for naught. But it isn't about my working knowledge - it's for the lurkers.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on July 22, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

"A simple Google search of the terms "armies" "exhausted" and "negotiations" bring up reams of examples that refute this assertion.
_______________

Attrition - exhaustion, if you will - always plays a role. Eventually, however, the decision to surrender or give up depends on the calculation that the cost of continuing exceeds the cost of losing. And often, that calculation turns out to be in error. Clausewitz.

And, as I said before, the weariness of the people usually doesn't come into play.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

No offense, th, but I think I will take COIN advice from the people in my immediate circle, and when I want the logistics of keeping far-flung BX's stocked with Playboys and X-Box's, I'll ask a MAC pilot.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on July 22, 2008 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Since the fucking war can not be justified...."
________________

Ah, but I'm not trying to justify it.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

No. Even worse, the fact that it is unjustifiable and therefore morally wrong matters not to you. I find that infuriating, repugnant and personally offensive because it violates the Honor Code and that matters to me. It is paramount to the Constitution. It is personally offensive because I have taken the same oath you did, plus a couple more, and your trite observations are a violation of every damned one of 'em. Yeah, there is a chasm in the military, and it is between people like you and people like me.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on July 22, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, none taken, Blue Girl. I did manage to struggle through War College, though. Even worked in jobs other than trashhauling. Funny thing about the COIN stuff. Much of it is rehashed lessons learned from Vietnam. Some of us have been around enough to have studied the old standbys, from which the latest gents have liberally cribbed.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

And, as I said before, the weariness of the people usually doesn't come into play.

You said it before and you're still wrong, as history has shown time and again.

What's that got to do with the price of beans?

It has more to do with the price of oil and valuing that and strategic basing over Iraqi sovereignty.

Clausewitz

On his theory all you have to do is have the primordial violence vector of the trinity wear out due to exhaustion - a common, ordinary occurrence - and the psychological conditions necessary to fuel a war begin to collapse, something that has happened over and over in history and that moreover SHOULD happen from the standpoint of ethics and sanity.

You are confusing the prescriptive with the descriptive. And you're an asshole with a "Seven Days in May" complex.

Posted by: trex on July 22, 2008 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

"the fact that it is unjustifiable and therefore morally wrong matters not to you. I find that infuriating, repugnant and personally offensive because it violates the Honor Code and that matters to me."
______________________

Oh, I didn't say it didn't matter to me. I said I wasn't trying to. That would take a different thread of its own and would come down to differing opinions in the end. Your assumption that anyone who disagrees with you is morally repugnant is worrisome, but it also doesn't overly trouble me. The state of my soul is my own concern. As yours is your concern and I respect that.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

And I love you, too, trex. Troll that you are.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 22, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

I find that infuriating, repugnant and personally offensive because it violates the Honor Code and that matters to me. It is paramount to the Constitution.

Yes, let's look at Trashhauler's attitude toward the Constitution:

That's why, if this decision holds without modification, we won't try to hold similar detainees in similar circumstances. Instead, those that survive an encounter with our troops will be held where the Constitution does not apply and/or by people not governed by the same Constitional restrictions.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 13, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Huh. In trashhauler's world if you don't agree with a Supreme Court decision that is the law of land you simply find a way to hide from the law. Is this the kind of conduct we expect from members of the Armed Forces? Doesn't the UCMJ address this kind of expression of contempt? I wonder if anyone would be interested in this story.

Here's another keeper:

On the other hand, if they are POWs we can keep them essentially forever.

Posted by: trashhauler on June 14, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Really? We can keep them forever? Never mind the casual inhumanity of that statement, it's contrary to the American ideal and puts American servicemen in jeopardy of similar treatment. It contravenes both the law and morality.

Posted by: trex on July 22, 2008 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Golly gee, fetch me the fainting couch. I never met anyone who has graduated from the War College before! [/eyerolling]

I can live with you finding my attitude "troubling" and not lose a wink of sleep. "Troubling" doesn't even begin to describe how some of your pronouncements make me feel, although embarrassment at being associated with you, even tangentially, is prominent in that melange.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on July 23, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not overstate the impact of this mid-summer trip abroad by Obama, when only the most devoted political acolytes are earnestly paying attention. This is a positive development for Obama, and one that does not surprise me in the least, but plenty of time is going to pass between now and election day, and attention spans will be most focused in the fall, not right now in the laziest days of summer.

Obama is certainly not the default national security candidate, just as McCain never actually was, but the key is to wisely build on momentum, since McCain and his campaign will inevitably crash on their own contradictions sooner or later, but only as long as the proper pressure is applied (mostly subtle).

Posted by: Jimm on July 23, 2008 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

>

This was such a ridiculous answer that I thought it had to be a joke.

She asked you specifically what constituted winning. Your answer, with all the three dollar words taken out, was: "when some stuff happens. And you should know what the stuff is already."

Good grief.

Posted by: karmafrog on July 23, 2008 at 6:03 AM | PERMALINK

I was referring to this exchange:

"Define just how, exactly, one wins an occupation. Be specific and show your work."
_______________

Easily done. "Winning" is the act of accomplishing the nations war goals, as they relate to our national interests. Mind you, the goals change in every war, so you must continue to pay attention. In order to attain our goals, the military is called upon to complete certain specific tasks. The National strategy is the sum of all tasks to be accomplished by military and civilian departments and agencies in the furtherance of our goals.

Posted by: karmafrog on July 23, 2008 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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